Postcards from the President

Postcards from the President

Postcards - November 2014

November 18, 2014
Happy Fall Trail Fans,

It's been a few months since we last put out a newsletter, but things have certainly been active since that time. The chapters have all been working on either trail planning or construction activities, and importantly, we interviewed for and hired our new Coordinator, Kristina Kittelson, and have added a new member to the Board of Directors, Stephen Barnes. In this fall season, we're gearing up for significant trail activities in 2015 and using it as a time for planning and organizing.  We've also taken the opportunity to get our new Coordinator out to each of the chapters to introduce herself and to make that important personal connection to as many members and chapter committees as possible. The Coordinator serves the entire organization, and you can expect excellent and responsive support from Kristina.

The early November trail building activities in the Buzzard Gulch area in Montrose by the recently invigorated Uncompahgre Chapter was an enthusiastic wrap-up to this season. This construction sets the stage for additional activity next season, including new connections and expanded mileage to round out the riding area. The chapter submitted a proposal to IMBA for a 2015 Trail Care Crew (TCC) visit.  These visits create quite a lot of energy and are a great way to both engage the larger community via the high-profile trail activity and get valuable trail construction experience from a skilled resource. We hope the request is successful and a TCC visit is scheduled for next Quick read more or view full article year. I want to also note the enthusiasm and participation flowing from this group. It seems last year’s Cerro Summit trail project may have served to kick-start an expanded interest and commitment in this area. The new trail recently constructed at Buzzard Gulch looks like a lot of fun and well built. This group is taking off!

The Delta Chapter recently held a planning meeting, and from the report I received, was well attended and enthusiastic. This chapter is in a challenging position at the moment—working diligently to obtain the interest and cooperation of the local land management agency while scoping out where they want to focus. There are some great opportunities at hand including Smith Mountain, an area suitable for a multi-trail system. Working in cooperation with the Grand Valley Canyons Chapter, there's also an opportunity for construction on the Grand Mesa on the County Line Trail System, which has historically been a Nordic ski area. The Delta Chapter will likely take on construction when given the opportunity to begin implementation and as conditions permit. The Forest Service is eager to get construction under way now that tree clearing has been completed. The enthusiasm is palpable and I look forward to great things from this new chapter.

And speaking of the Grand Valley Canons Chapter activities, the work in this area has recently focused more on maintenance than new construction; however, there are still existing trail construction opportunities available while the BLM field office continues with the revamp of the underlying Resource Management Plan (RMP). The Kokopelli area currently operates under the existing 2004 management plan, which specifies trail work yet to be completed. The local chapter has identified this area as their priority for this coming season and is gearing up to be tool-ready for a new trail project as soon as conditions allow.

The Ridgway Chapter hit its stride this year with several miles of new trail constructed and substantial plans in place for building out their network. They have just applied for a major grant, and the chapter is reaching out to the community for greater participation.  As we like to say, "the Force is strong" with this group. While the small, key group of people have been very successfully driving the work forward, they realize the need for greater involvement by the community. A public meeting is planned for December 5 to illustrate their activities and get folks involved.  If their grant request is successful, the area will be “abuzz” with work and many hands will be needed. This situation illustrates a common theme faced by all chapters—how to best engage a greater number of truly active members. But we have to also note, the core crew has made a huge impact on the Ridgway area community with their project to date. This success surely will draw recognition and further interest—nothing succeeds like success. Good luck to the RAT Chapter in their planning efforts.

An overriding theme and challenge I see with all chapters is the need for continued development of an effective and committed core group of people and effective outreach to the broader community.  Each chapter strives to achieve strong membership, and challenges can range from engaging new members to keeping existing membership active. But the essence of the situation is that WE are the people who will get the fun trail work done. Do you count yourself among the group? Can you reach out to others that you know may share your passions and engage them? Let's share our passion and—together—continue to advocate for, build, and maintain the sigletrack trails we love to ride on.

Finally, I'd like to introduce the newest member of the Board of Directors for COPMOBA, Mr. Stephen Barnes. Stephen was nominated by the Ridgway chapter to the position and confirmed by the board.  Stephen brings a wealth of knowledge and skills ranging from outdoor industry connections and experience, as well as specific trail system creation background in the Cortez area as well as other regions around the western U.S. Stephen is clearly passionate, capable, and committed to trails.  We welcome his energy and input to the organization.

See you on the trails,
Scott Winans
Pres - COPMOBA Read Less
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Postcards - August 2014

August 6, 2014
A recent article in an online publication came to my attention today, and it is pertinent to me personally from a couple of different directions.  The topic of the article is electric bikes, and their burgeoning identification with mountain bikes.  You may have noticed that electric-assist bikes as a segment have become prevalent over the past couple of years in the US market.  These have been much more prevalent in the European market for many years, where a more active commuter and citi-bike culture exists.  While the majority of electric-assist bikes are intended for pavement use, there is a portion of the market that is moving into off-road type of configurations.  It's these off-road electric-assist bikes that I believe may create significant issues for the mountain bike and trail communities as they (IF they) expand in numbers and availability, and begin to be found on our current trails.  I am concerned about two main issues -  the physical impact that these machines may have on trails, and probably more importantly, the planning and land use impacts of the association of electric-assisted bikes with the human powered mountain bike.

Land access, and trail planning and usage, is strongly influenced by the definition of who is using the land and trails, and how the land/trails are being used.  Associating an electric-assisted bicycle capable of off-road use will very likely complicate the process of bicycle access and trail planning.  In addition, when considering the use of powered vehicles on Quick read more or view full article trails that are designed for non-powered users, I envision problems with trail degradation (higher speeds, heavier vehicles, greater braking and turning distances, etc), and a new phase of trail users becoming accustomed to a new form of trail use and the etiquette involved.

These electric-assist bikes that are trail capable are already on the market.  I own a bike shop, and we have begun to sell and service electric-assisted bikes, but I am very wary of any step in the direction of electric-assisted bicycles for off-road use.  I believe that the broader bike using public will welcome the electric-assisted bike offerings for road and city bike use, and that is where I think their strengths are best applied.  I do not support the evolution of electric-assisted bikes intended for trail use, and I think that it's an issue to be aware of for a trail based organization such as ours.  There will be many opinions on the topic, and many valid views, but this bears watching, consideration, and perhaps advocacy on our part as the situation evolves.

OK, enough of electric-assisted bikes.  What about mountain bike trails?!

In the Grand Valley, we have nearly been washed away as of late.  Some monsoon season storms have dumped a tremendous amount of moisture in a very short time recently, and the trails are impacted to various degrees.  I see in general that most things are holding up quite well.  Results of heavy water flow is certainly apparent, with washed debris across trail, and scoured sections.  Some of our desert pour-offs and drainages carried HUGE amounts of water.  It's neat to see this in the desert terrain.  So be careful as you round a corner or take a drop-off on your favorite Grand Valley area trail for the coming couple of weeks - you may find a surprise!
In Ridgway, trail construction has continued apace, with several new miles of singletrack completed in the past couple of months.  Reports are that it's great riding - let's get down there and try it out first hand.  The Montrose group has basically finished all of their initial singletrack construction at Cerro Summit - worth a stop at the top of the pass on Hwy 50 on your next trip through.  And the Delta chapter held a formal gathering in the county to help prioritize MTB trail direction, and has an outcome that will let them get to work with the BLM with consensus from the riding community.  Good work guys.

Enjoy the waning of summer.  I’ll see you on the trail,  Scott Read Less
Posted by Scott Winans
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Postcards - July 2014

July 7, 2014
Hi Rider and Trail Builders,

Over the past couple of years, COPMOBA has created a few changes that I believe are much for the better of the organization.  We made efforts to establish active local chapters and to make those chapters readily available to members and interested parties.  In this process, we've also created two new chapters - with the Ridgway group joining some time ago, and the Delta chapter joining just this month.  This outreach to, and involvement in, more communities is a positive step for COPMOBA as it helps to bring successful relationships and experience to more and more projects.  Along the way however, a common theme raises its head.  This theme is common to many volunteer organizations, and it's the situation where a small minority of the organization members end up being responsible for the large share of the work that gets accomplished.  I think we're all familiar with the scenario -  the same group of faces showing up the majority of the time at work days and meetings.  If you're an actively participating member of COPMOBA - Thank You.  Even if that participation is a couple of times a year, it makes a difference.  And to all of us  I pose a simple question - how can you reach out to encourage just one more person to participate actively in the organization?  What would it take to accomplish that?  And by "what would it take", I mean that on both a personal level, and on Quick read more or view full article an organizational level.  If you have an idea about how you think COPMOBA can better involve and engage members, please bring that idea up at a local meeting, or provide it to our coordinator - we're happy to hear thoughtful input.  And on a personal level, think about spreading information about COPMOBA trail or planning activities to your friends and ask them to join in the process.  Help them see the value of these trails to us as riders and to our communities in general.  This first hand outreach is important, as it's about sharing the passion that we all have for trails, and more importantly, how we use them.

I've also been thinking recently about longer (and larger) term planning for mountain biking in our region.  Two pieces of information have just recently come to light that further highlight this thinking, and raise more questions about what we do and how we do it.  One of these is a study based in the Telluride area about a comprehensive regional trails plan, and the other is in essence an editorial piece about the generation of the mountain biking industry in the British Columbia region of Canada.  Each piece illustrates long range planning, but on two fundamentally different scales of concern.  It's great to see a group considering a broad range plan, such as IMBA is discussing with concerned parties in the Telluride area, but what stands out to me is the view taken in BC where broad based community and regional interests come together and identify trails and mountain bike use as a particular industry of focus.  This broad based approach recognizes mountain biking and trails as an industry worth cultivating, with substantial positive quality of life and economic impacts for the communities involved.  Western Colorado and Eastern Utah have the terrain and communities and perhaps the interest to support this sort of planning, and several steps in the right direction towards cultivating trails and trail use in the region.  But there has never been a comprehensive effort to formally plan for a regional mountain biking system.  Maybe it's time to consider that option.  This sort of planning would involve all aspects of the business communities, land management, public entities, and trail users.

Imagine the possibilities of a broadly planned regional trail Mecca.  You might say - it already exists, and it does in some form, but how can we work together to improve this situation.  Just a thought to consider.  Let me know if this piques your interest.
I’ll see you out there on one of those great trails,  Scott Read Less
Posted by Scott Winans
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Postcards - June 2014

June 5, 2014
In two weeks, COPMOBA will hold a celebration of our twenty-fifth anniversary as an organization.  That’s twenty-five years of dedicated efforts and results in creating trails that are enjoyed by a breadth of riders and other users in western Colorado – trails that help define the nature of lifestyle in our region and provide spaces for recreation both personal and social.
I sometimes ponder the history of trails and trail development as I ride.  The trail is there in front of me, and I enjoy experiencing it, but it took someone’s efforts to make it so.  I appreciate those efforts, in part because I’m familiar with what it takes to create these threads of passion.  But mostly I simply enjoy the moment and the terrain and the trail.  Twenty-five years of working in a consistent direction is no small feat for an organization. We’ve seen our ups and downs, but remain consistently focused on our goal of “building, maintaining, and advocating for sustainable singletrack trail and developmental features on the Colorado Plateau.”  It’s good to take a moment to consider the people, and the organization that we’ve created and sustained through the years, that conceive of and create these trails.  So to all of you that have pitched in, sat in meetings, thought “wouldn’t it be cool to have a trail from ….”, hefted tools on work days, cooked a meal for the group, donated money to the cause, talked to friends about a trail project, walked and flagged Quick read more or view full article a line, organized meetings, and so many other important steps in creating and sustaining our trails – I give a hearty ‘THANK YOU!’ on behalf of all of us who ride and enjoy the fruits of those efforts.  On this anniversary year, let’s look both back and forward.  Let’s recognize the accomplishments, and also reinvigorate our efforts to continue the process.  Let’s think big, plan the grand plans and build the new trails that express our ideas about what trail means to and for us as riders, and for our communities.
Come to the 25th Anniversary party and enjoy some great friends, music, food and fun.  We’re holding the fiesta at the Edgewater Brewery in Grand Junction, on June 14 from 4-8 PM.  We very much want to see you there, and bring your friends who enjoy trails but may not be familiar with COPMOBA.
On the more literal side of out trail building efforts, take note that trail crews are hard at work in Ridgway, creating new singletrack daily.  Locals are already trying out some of the new lines, and from the sound of things, maybe even enjoying it.  In Montrose, we're approaching the June 7 Cerro Summit work day.  A grant this year from REI was secured for this Montrose chapter project - good work Uncompahgre chapter.  In the Grand Valley we're still fundamentally on hold for new project planning while the BLM Resource Management Plan revamp is in process, but existing projects still move ahead. In the West End area, an nascent organization is forming with eyes on COPMOBA participation - the West End Bike Alliance. We'll support them in their efforts to establish a meaningful trail organization in their area.  And in the Delta area, we're still working with the Delta Area Mtn Bikers as they work towards chapter status for their group.  While the organizational growth is great, we all remain focused on the end results of creating and maintaining trail.
Enjoy the summer temps and upper elevation trails as they dry out.  I look forward to seeing you on the trails.
Scott Read Less
Posted by Scott Winans
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